William James Urell, Sr., of Norman, Oklahoma, passed away on Monday, October 10, 2022 at the age of 92. Bill was born on September 12, 1930 in the Bronx, New York to Joseph A. Urell and Katherine C.(McCarthy) Urell. Bill is survived by his children Diana Morgan, Judith Urell, Pamela Lenti, and Michael Urell; grandchildren, Kaitlyn, Marisa, Jillian, Elizabeth, Julianna, Jael, Janelle, Jessi, and John Michael; great grandchildren, Isaiah, Scarlett, and Cassius.
Bill devoted his life to Jesus, his work, his family and church ministries. He became baptized in the Holy Spirit in 1976 when he became involved with the Catholic Charismatic Renewal. He has loved playing his banjo for many music ministries through the years. Bill became a founding member of the Kairos Prison Ministry here in Oklahoma in 1994 along with his wife, Pat and was known for his leadership. Both Bill and Pat participated in many Catholic programs and ministries at both St. Joseph Catholic Church in Norman and St. Thomas More University Parish. Being clowns for Clown Ministry was one of their favorites, as well as being members of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites (OCDS), Catholic men and women who are called to a deeper spiritual life. Bill was a steadfast member of a Tuesday night men’s prayer and share group that came out of Cursillo and continued for nearly 30 years until his passing. Bill was a Knight of Columbus, and a supporter of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
Bill earned his Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Manhattan College in 1952. Having worked for Unisys in New York for most of his career, the day he was switched from working on defense contracts to weather radar systems, he came home and sang, “I Ain’t Gonna Study War No More” to his wife, Pat. After retiring from Unisys, he went to work for the National Weather Service, NOAA, Radar Operations Center (ROC), which brought Bill and his family to Norman, Oklahoma in 1992.
Bill Urell was the definition of Professional Engineer. His ability to think through problems, analyze a situation, and develop a solution was amazing. Bill’s primary focus at the ROC was improving stability and long term supportability of the WSR-88D Transmitter, a large analog device not understood by many, and frowned upon by most, as an antiquated relic of the past. However, with Bill’s skill and expertise, the WSR-88D Transmitter remains a world class device and the gold standard for weather radar. Bill’s team received the prestigious Hammer Award for improvements and cost reductions for this Transmitter.
One of Bill’s strongest characteristics was the ability to mentor senior engineering students from the University of Oklahoma, which he loved doing. He taught them how to think and work with him in the development of well-engineered solutions. However, Bill’s solutions, though elegant and efficient in design, were often held together with duct tape and built on cardboard! Bill retired from the ROC in 2014 at the age of 84. He contributed more than most and was greatly admired and respected.
In his younger years, Bill loved to play golf and take Pat and the kids camping. Bill was the fun-loving dad in the neighborhood who would pile the kids in the car to take them for ice cream. He could switch engines in and out of Volkswagen Beetles and Campers like nobody’s business. In the final 15 months of his life in assisted living at both Arbor House and Sooner Station, Bill was a favorite among the staff and loved for his great sense of humor, charm and harmonica playing. Bill was a kind, loving, wise and generous man who will be greatly missed.
Bill was preceded in death by his wife, Pat; his son, Bill, Jr.; his son-in-law, Ron Cummings, his parents and all his siblings.
The wake will be held on Wednesday, October 19th from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. with the Rosary being prayed at 6:30 p.m., at Moore Funeral and Cremation, 400 SE 19th Street, Moore. His Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated by Father Brian Buettner on Thursday, October 20th at 10:00 a.m. at St. Thomas More University Parish, 1535 Jenkins Avenue, Norman. Inurnment of Bill’s ashes, along with the ashes of his wife, Pat, will take place at St. Joseph Cemetery, Norman, immediately following the Mass. All are invited to join the family for lunch provided by the parish back at St. Thomas More following the inurnment.
The family has asked for any memorial gifts to be made to either St. Vincent de Paul at St. Thomas More, stm-ou.org/ministries/st-vincent-de-paul or to Kairos Prison Ministry of Oklahoma at kairosoklahoma.org.
Please sign his online guestbook at www.MooreFuneralCremation.com. His family will be comforted by your memories.